Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


A healthy heart at 50 could lower dementia risk

20 August 2019

A new Whitehall II paper has found that good cardiovascular health at age 50 is associated with a lower risk of dementia onset later in life.

Healthy heart

Researchers looked at the heart health of study participants at age 50 based on the American Heart Association's Life Simple 7 cardiovascular health score. This score is the sum of four behavioural (smoking, diet, physical activity, body mass index) and three biological (fasting glucose, blood cholesterol, blood pressure) metrics, each of them being categorized as poor (score=0), intermediate (score=1), and optimal (score=2).  Researchers then looked at the association between this score and the incidence of dementia over a 25 year follow-up period.  Analyses showed that those with a higher Life’s Simple 7 score were less likely to have developed dementia. 

Dr Severine Sabia, lead author on the paper, said: “Our findings suggest that the promotion of healthy lifestyle and good levels of biological cardiovascular risk factors in midlife might be important for preventing dementia”

The paper has been published in The BMJ.

Association of ideal cardiovascular health at age 50 with incidence of dementia: 25 year follow-up of Whitehall II cohort study

Some links to media coverage stories:

The Times:  Good heart health in middle age may lower your risk of dementia

ITV News:  Good heart health in middle age linked to lower dementia risk – study

Alzheimer’s Society: Good heart health at age 50 linked to lower dementia risk later in life